Nov. 29, 2018 -- For this 8-month investigation, WebMD and Georgia Health News filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for a list of all EMTALA violations by hospitals across the U.S. between March 2008 and March 2018.
The list detailed the number of violations, which hospitals had committed them, when they happened, and the nature of the offenses.
There were 4,341 violations by 1,682 hospitals. That’s almost a third of about 5,500 hospitals in the United States, according to the American Hospital Association.
We partnered with the geographic information systems company Esri to map this data and analyze it in different ways. That analysis revealed that smaller hospitals -- those less than 100 beds -- were more likely to have an EMTALA violation. We used the American Hospital Directory for bed size data.
Because we wanted to understand more about what was behind these violations, we also requested the investigation reports for the most recent 27 months of violations. These reports included full details on 874 EMTALA violations with more than 1,400 pages of documentation.
We used the facts from these investigation reports, which do not include names of patients and other details, to help us find patients and families that were affected by these violations. In some cases, we found police reports, medical records, and, in one instance, a 911 call to give more details, and we did interviews with family members and medical personnel.
Valarie Basheda and Aaron Gould Sheinin contributed to the reporting.